girl sitting at desk looking at phone while making a list with pencil and paper

Preparing for Back-to-School

It’s August. Are your kids ready for school yet?

Depending on where they’re enrolled, the actual first day of school may be as early as August 7 or as late as September 5. But however long you have to prepare, it rarely feels like enough—especially when Individualized Education Programs, accommodations concerns, and medications/assistive technology are in the picture.

BridgingApps and Easter Seals Greater Houston cover many specific back-to-school concerns on our social media and other channels. (For one recent example, see “Tech Tools to Support Literacy Accommodations,” published in the July/August 2023 issue of Parenting Special Needs Magazine.) Today, we’re featuring an “overview” collection of quick hacks.

mom walking 4 kids towards school

Finding the Right Tech Tools

  • There’s more to school than academics. When you check our Search Tool resource to review learning-related apps, remember that we also have suggestions related to health, productivity, planning, social connections, and other topics. (The full topics list is under the “Categories” menu in the left sidebar.)
  • Before choosing an app or apps for your children, let them test it out and see if they like it. Just because an app is excellent in itself doesn’t mean it fits their personal learning styles.
  • You can help kids find their own best apps by asking open-ended questions: What do you already like doing? What do you want to be able to do? How do you find it easiest to learn?

General School-Preparation Tips

  • Make your own school-supplies shopping list, and keep it short. Lists posted on school district websites are useful, but not to be blindly copied: they use the “cover all bases” approach, which usually comprises more bases than any one student needs. Send your kids off that first day with just writing tools, a notebook, and a good planning/organizing app or two. There’ll be time for additional shopping after their teachers introduce them to semester goals and the real essentials.  
  • Besides not buying nonessentials, other ways to save money on school supplies include: check what you already have in your cabinets at home; see if your friends/extended family have extras; shop resale stores and discount outlets; check out options at local school-supplies drives.
  • Ease your kids through the summer-to-school transition. Before that first day, have “dress rehearsals” where everyone gets up and gets ready on the school-days schedule. Take them along the same route they, you, or the bus will follow (if you’re driving, note where other school zones are and how much travel time they’ll add!).
  • As far as possible, review in advance (with the kids) what they will be learning and aiming for. All the better if you can arrange for them to see their classroom and/or meet their teacher(s) in advance.
middle school kids in classroom, 1 boy in wheelchair

Special Tips

  • Have a clear IEP schedule and support team in place early on. Make this your number-one first priority: trust us that it’s the worst thing to get caught figuring out at the last minute.
  • Especially if your kids are new to a school, make sure they’re clear on how disability needs will be accommodated. Newcomers amid the stress of first-day crowds have been known to get too flustered to see a standard accessibility ramp three feet away.
  • Do encourage your children to be proactive and self-sufficient, no matter what their limitations. For them to achieve maximum independence is in everyone’s best interests.
  • Stay calm and confident yourself. (If you need help there, you can always use a relaxation or planning app!)

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